Quote of the day
Remember that you own what happened to you. If your childhood was less than ideal, you may be raised thinking that if you told the truth about what really went on in your family, a long bony white finger would emerge from a cloud and point at you, while a chilling voice thundered, "We told you not to tell."
(Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird, page 6)
While grading papers waiting for my son in a coffee shop in Boston this past weekend, I laughed out loud as I read the above quote in one of my student's essays. Because, of course, "bony fingers" emerge in all sorts of ways from all manner of clouds, and in all sorts of shapes, colors and sizes.
And I have certainly had my share!
Some bony fingers have pointed and jabbed at me accusingly, aggressively, always shaming, and others ominous and deadly by their cowardly silence, whispered as messages through doting and devoted grapevines. At times they appeared to me as "white and bony," but mostly flaming crimson, dark and gray, or slimy green.
As I sat there sipping coffee and eating hot oatmeal topped with cinnamon and almonds, I wondered at how I had managed to continue with my writing, owning my story, all the while dodging flying bullets or cowering under icy, silence, as I proceeded along my path.
Certainly, I felt supported by the writings of Anne Lamott, Natalie Goldberg, Eve Ensler, and Alice Miller – and so many others who have gone before. More than that, though, are the confused and bewildered faces of young children, in the forefront of my mind. As I find the courage to share my story, more adults are able to make connections between their own stories, and the early emotional memories they are creating for those young children in their care.
If the sharing of my story saves even one child from humiliation and shame, it is worth all the myriad of bony fingers raining down from the clouds at me.
For, I have realized that all those who need so desperately to point outward, fear only the shadows they might encounter within themselves.
sent me this piece … I thought it appropriate for right here …
Love After Love
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.